It’s about time we did something that is well overdue. An honest discussion about domestic violence.
What society as a whole is secretly aware of, is that both men and women can be violent. We all know this. We have all witnessed it. Yet we are uncomfortable discussing it on a public platform, or in an open space.Violence is a physical, and sometimes non-physical response brought about by intense negative emotions. These emotions are not restricted to a particular gender. Emotions are shared by both men and women. Anger included.
The overwhelming majority of domestic violence (as society has unwilling witnessed it), is bilateral. Meaning that the violence is perpetrated by both the male and female parties towards one another. We have all experienced this at one stage in our lives. Our wives have shouted at us for spilling a drink on the carpet. Yes, that is violence. A husband calling his wife stupid for using the wrong tool. Yes, that is also violence.
More intense disagreements, usually over financial issues faced by the couple, can get out of control. This is further exacerbated if there has been alcohol consumed.A raised voice between the two leads to shouting. Shouting leads to throwing. Throwing leads to hitting. Until the stronger of the two eventually causes physical damage. This is how the majority of violence plays out in the Australian household.
The media would have you believe this is not the case. The narrative is that men are returning home and beating their partners into obedience. But as a society, do we really believe that. As a male, have you ever beaten or intimidated your partner into obedience? No? Neither have I?
What I have experienced is what was described above. My female partner attacking me, and me retaliating, or vice versa. We both agreed we did this. Whilst it was not physical. The violence was mutual. I have also witnessed this between other partners and strangers in the street as I’m sure most other people have.
So that raises the question? Why are women three times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner, than a man is? I don’t know about you, but I find this a darn silly question.
Why do we separate professional fighters by gender? Why do we separate athletes by gender? Why does the police force have different fitness standards for the genders? Its pretty simple isn’t it?
One gender is stronger than the other and more likely to do more harm. Does this ability mean that one gender is more violent than the other? Of course not! Being violent is the act of, not the outcome.
The war against domestic violence has failed since the early 1980s and the reason for this is that we are not being honest about it. We are lying about it because society is uncomfortable with the truth. We are not yet mature enough to accept the truth. It’s kind of like learning that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist for the first time. It’s a complete shock to the reality, we thought we knew. All of our domestic violence policy and framework adopts the notion that violence is overwhelmingly a male problem. It ignores the truth and lays the blame solely on men. Men are the problem. It’s easy to blame men, because it’s socially accepted that men can be violent. So it keeps us all in our comfy cocoon and none of our worldviews need to be challenged. Everyone is happy. The media campaigns against domestic violence focus all their energy on highlighting male perpetration. Domestic violence perpetrator reform programs are focused on rehabilitating men. We are only addressing half the problem. More often than not, these ‘rehabilitated men’ return back to a ‘non-rehabilitated’ female and walk straight back into the same environment they just left. This is a recipe for disaster. Think of it like this. You have two dogs. Neither are domesticated. Leave them in a room together and they are going to fight. Now, if you remove one of those dogs and train it to be domesticated, the dog will still be attacked if you return it into the presence of the non-domesticated dog. The two will only cease fighting when they both have received training.
So what about retaliatory violence?
A woman takes the children and leaves her husband. After a long family court battle, the woman is found dead in her house. Murdered by her ex-husband. Australia is in outrage. Whilst the man murdering his wife is utterly abhorrent, could it have been prevented. The answer is yes.
The domestic violence policies and family court system’s exacerbate the risk of violence between feuding couples. When a parent loses access to their children, due to violence being equally reciprocated between both parties, it would drive a person to feel that the entire world is against them.
Why am I the only one here being punished? Why are my children being punished?
When a parent has unfairly been separated from their children long enough. Have exhausted all their finances fighting court battles to see them. Facing a system that gives one parent ultimate power.
It’s a recipe for the unthinkable. Psychotic rage!
So what needs to change?
Firstly, we need to have that discussion. We need to acknowledge that violence can, and is, perpetrated by both the genders. We need to make it easy for people experiencing low-level domestic violence to seek help, man or woman before it skyrockets into more physical violence. Encouraging therapeutic couples counselling, allowing both parties to address their anger and violent tendencies. Current organisations, such as Relationships Australia, do not do this. They only focus on the males anger.
We can continue this gendered narrative. It will make a select group of people a lot of money. But it will be at the expense of more lives. How many lives have to be lost, or forever ruined before we choose to be mature enough to accept the truth?
Domestic Violence Awareness Australia